The Arts

Opera Birmingham, Other Arts Groups Making Leadership Changes Ahead of Coming Season

Opera Birmingham’s headquarters on southside. (Google Street View)

Several of Birmingham’s premier arts organizations are making significant leadership changes ahead of their 2024-2025 seasons, shifts they say will position them for growth and continued community engagement.

Opera Birmingham’s Keith Wolfe-Hughes is departing after serving as general director for nine years, the organization announced earlier this month. Board of directors President Brooks Proctor praised Wolfe-Hughes for his dedication and confirmed Lynne Hutton and Amy Richardson were promoted to managing director and producing artistic director, respectively.

Lynne Hutton, managing director of Opera Birmingham (Courtesy of Opera Birmingham)
Amy Richardson, producing artistic director for Opera Birmingham. (Courtesy of Opera Birmingham)

“We’re excited about the direction we’re headed, and we’ve got two new co-heads who are looking forward to taking the reins …,” Proctor said. “We’re moving forward with a new leadership structure but remain committed to bringing exciting and innovative opera performances to the city of Birmingham; that is not changing.”

As part of its transition, Opera Birmingham also intends to relocate its headquarters. Proctor said the sale of the opera’s building has long been in progress, and the organization is looking for a larger location to meet its needs before moving from its current home. The sale also will provide additional resources for artistic projects and community engagement initiatives.

“What we’re trying to do is have that revenue help us be more flexible and adaptable moving forward, serving as an endowment for the organization,” Proctor explained.

Opera Birmingham Board President Brooks Proctor (Courtesy of Opera Birmingham)

Increased space for creative endeavors is a necessity in the new building, he said.

“With the kind of productions that we’ve been putting on and are planning to put on, we need rehearsal and storage space for sets,” Proctor said. “It’s not just about flexibility; it’s also adding space that we can use to create and rehearse for the productions we have planned this year.”

He assured that Opera Birmingham will remain in the Birmingham metro area.

Proctor is confident about the future under the new leadership. “Lynne and Amy have been with the company for a long time and they’ve been fantastic,” he said. “We will continue to strive to bring innovative performances to the city of Birmingham while also focusing on the civic side of things and making this a community-driven organization.”

Attracting new audiences and focusing on educational outreach remains a continual goal.

“We’re always looking to expand our audience and expose new audiences to opera and a combination of classic and contemporary works,” said Proctor. “We are also very focused on the educational side of things, and I think that will become clear when we announce our new season.”

Alabama Ballet, RMT

Alabama Ballet has elected a search committee to find a replacement for Mary Goodrich, its former director of development, who is retiring.

Goodrich served on the executive board for Alabama Ballet for several years before stepping in as interim director of development, holding the position for six years. Chloe Bowen, the PR and marketing manager at Alabama Ballet, confirmed that Christopher Stuart remains at the helm as artistic director and expressed excitement about the new season.

Red Mountain Theatre is another organization experiencing leadership changes. Keith Cromwell, who has served as executive director for two decades, has been appointed director of institutional advancement.

Jennifer Jaquess has been named to the executive director spot after serving as director of development and managing director over her 12-year career with RMT.

Jaquess expressed her enthusiasm for her new role: “So many things have been accomplished at this incredible organization. … We built an incredible Arts Campus (and) thousands of people and their lives are transformed by the theater that takes place in this amazing space. I cannot wait for all the future has in store.”

Roy Lightner remains artistic director of the theater.